It was Valentine’s Day and love ‐real and fake -dripped all around Hetty.
She felt so alone despite the activities around her. Of course, she had gone for service dressed resplendently in the colours of love. Even her nose mask was in shades of love.
This wasn’t one of those Sundays that thoughts of coronavirus painted in grey. It was lovers’ day for those who believe in it.
Of course, she wouldn’t join the club of those not celebrating love on lovers’ day. She knew that a million and one persons flaunting love tones and flashing love laughter were bleeding inside, mourning elusive love.
So, she wouldn’t be the only hollow heart outwardly displaying fullness of joyful love. Regardless of her cheerful mien though, her heart ached.
The incident that sheared her last relationship came back to her like a bad spirit. It usually did this period because it was around the anniversary of her break up with a promising relationship.
She had mourned and blamed herself for three years. It was time to move on. She sought for closure for so long in vain and had decided to ‘borrow herself brain’ and force on the closure.
As she drove into her street, she smiled. A text message from a guy that she had been sizing up stealthily lightened her spirit.
They had met at a mutual friend’s beach party some months ago and had exchanged phone numbers. They had spoken a few times on the phone and exchanged new month good wishes a few times.
He called her during the Yuletide and New Year for seasonal greetings. She was pleasantly surprised to see his Valentine’s Day message.
Didn’t say much though. It was a perfunctory, “Hello. How you doing?
I wish you a love-filled Val. Cheers. Bolu”, but it made her day because she never expected it. If he remembered her on a day like this, it meant he thought of her more often than she imagined.
She greeted her neighbours cheerily and prayed they would hang around outside for long. She glanced at the wall clock in her sitting room as she turned on her television set. Her phone rang and she grabbed it.
As she answered the call, she grinned from ear to ear and did a brief ‘leg walk’. “Oh, delivery man? From where?” She asked.
“Oh great. I’ll be with you in a minute. Come inside the compound, don’t wait outside,” she told the person at the other end of the line and slid her feet into a nude mule at the door.
She literally sailed out of her flat, praying that at least one of her neighbours would still be outside. She was lucky. There were about seven people outside the building. Four were her neighbours.
She was happy that Lola was out there with them. Lola normally behaved like she could get any man of her choice.
She was in a relationship she flaunted so much, although of recent, the guy hadn’t been seen around the house.
Ken turned and waived a guy dressed in an overall to her. “Hetty, this guy has Val parcel for you,” he told her with a grin.
“Oh, thanks Ken,” she cooed and waived at the other people.
She and Lola exchanged smiles. The delivery guy gave her a slim parcel and hamper which contained cake and three bottles of red wine and told her to wait.
He went outside the gate and came back with a large package daintly wrapped with silver paper and knotted with red velvety ribbon. He went out again and came back with a huge white teddy with red bowtie.
“See who got all the Val gifts this year. Wow! Wow! Wow!” Lola screamed in excitement and came over to help her hold some of the gifts.
The guys -her co-tenants and their visitors -all wowed. Hetty was so loved, they concluded.
They would all want to see the great loverboy. Ken, a neighbours she had been crushing on for long, actually gave her a wink. The idiot that hardly acknowledged her greetings was now noticing her!
He came close to her and whispered into her ears, “You know I like you a lot”. The bastard! One of her neighbours’ friends wanted to know her name and asked for her phone number, which she gave without blinking an eyelid.
Her crushing neighbour told his friend to keep off Hetty. They all laughed. Lola told them jokingly that they shouldn’t fight over Betty. She was available too, she told them and they laughed. Hetty laughed throatily.
She had become the darling of all because she got gifts on Valentine’s Day.
Men! They’ll watch a low hanging fruit disinterestedly and sometimes with disdain as it matures and gets rotten from overripe.
Immediately someone shows interest, they’ll all jump in as if they were noticing it for the first time. Whatever kicks they get from competition! Lola was all over her. “Is he coming? Will he come with his friends?”
She asked Hetty conspiratorily. “He’s out of town,” Hetty whispered to her. “Awwnn babe…awwnn. So, so romantic. It’s hard to get a romantic guy these days,” Lola told her as they lugged her gifts towards her flat.
“Hey babe, are we invited for Val’s Day lunch?” Debo called out to Hetty as she was about to turn to her door. “There’s Coronavirus in town o.
Crowds are discouraged right now, but I’ll think about it… ok lemme prepare lunch. Will call you when it’s ready,” she told him.
“We’re all coming for the lunch,” another of her neighbours called out. She laughed and told them the invite was for them all. Inside her flat, Lola wanted to suffocate her with questions about her mystery lover.
“Babe na wah for you. How come you behave as if no man is in your life? No man has ever visited you here and we have always wondered if you are okay.
You’re very secretive,” she said. So, they hadn’t been minding their businesses? Monitoring spirits! Hetty spat out in her mind. Outwardly, she smiled and said, “He’s a very busy man. Always travelling.
He’s hardly around. I do the visiting when he’s around”. To change the subject, she steered Lola to the kitchenette. It was obvious she wasn’t ready to leave. “Your flat hasn’t changed much, ” Lola said. Hetty nodded.
This would be Lola’s third time in her flat in close to the two years they had been neighbours. She had been inside Lola’s flat once, for her birthday. She invited everyone then. Her wealthy boyfriend threw money around.
Lola walked with wings on her shoulders then, making it clear to all that she wasn’t playing in their league. Hetty took her cue from that and kept her distance. She didn’t like drama at all. “Show me his picture,”
Lola said from the blues. “Whose picture?” Hetty asked confused. “Mr Loverboy. Mr Val,” she laughed. Betty laughed with her, but flinched inside. There was no loverboy or Val anywhere. All the drama was her own plan.
She bought all the gifts online, planned the delivery, up to time, delivery mode and paid for everything herself!
She wanted to add a trumpeter to the mix but by the time she thought about it, there was little time left. If no guy out there would make her happy on Valentine’s Day, she would make herself shriek with joy.
No one would jail her for that. When she realised that Lola was watching her, she laughed to cover the worry in her mind. She didn’t know what to say as she opened her mouth.
Luckily, her phone rang and she was so grateful to whoever it was. She rushed to the sitting room. It was Bolu. He wanted to see her! “I’m home. You can come over,” she blurted out without thinking.
“Oh! Great! Send me the address, I’ll come over immediately,” he said. “I’m waiting,” she told him eagerly. “Is he coming over?” Lola asked.
She turned. Lola had sneaked in behind her and had listened to one side of her conversation with Bolu! Well, this opportunity she must grab.
She nodded and said, “Yes, he’s on his way. What a surprise. He didn’t tell me he was in town.” The feeling in her mind was indescribable.
At that moment, she could swear she was in love with Bolu. Lola looked at her and smiled wishfully. “How’s your guy. That wealthy dude that left us all green with envy at your birthday party?” Hetty asked her.
“The bastard! He left me. The idiot had another babe he was dating. A friend of his pitied me and told me.
I confronted him and he confessed he was betrothed to a lady before he met me and they were already planning their wedding! Can you imagine that the bastard proposed to me!
If I had a gun then, I’d have blown his head off. He placed me on a pedestal that chased good-natured guys away. I lived in a fool’s paradise for thirty months. I should have poisoned him!”
Lola spat. Lola’s outburst left Hetty in shock. So, she wasn’t the only one grieving lost love! “It’s ok dear. Try and let it go. We’ve all been there. I understand how you feel,” she told her compassionately and added,
“We have to add more grains since we’re having more mouths to feed. She left Lola in the kitchenette and went to move all her ‘Val’s gifts’ into her room.
She smiled. It seemed her village people were tired of making her ‘manless’ or they had mistakenly dozed off. Well, whichever, she would enjoy it while she could. She went back to the kitchenette and joined Lola.
She was in a celebratory mood. She brought out so much for them to cook. As they were done and were washing up, her phone rang and it was Bolu, he had arrived. “He’s here Lola,” she said excitedly and rushed out of the kitchenette. No one was outside when she got outside.
She instructed the gateman to let the car in. She wasn’t disappointed as Bolu drove in in a very clean Sports Utility Vehicle.
Dressed in a very lovely blue Jean and snow white designer T shirt, he cut the perfect picture of the loverboy who sent a surprise Val gift ahead of his coming.
Wait for it, he stepped out, gave her a peck on the forehead and steered her to the back seat of the vehicle from where he pulled out a hamper of gifts. Hetty stood, transfixed. “Be my Val,” Bolu told her.
At that point, his voice sounded like honeylaced Wagna tuba. She turned to look into his eyes and heard a discreet cough behind her. It was Lola, like a monitoring spirit, she had followed her…
Let’s continue this journey on Sunday!
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